The Lags of Jet Lag

plane Choosing to go to college in Pennsylvania was one of the biggest decisions I have ever made in my whole life. Coming from California, I knew I was going to face a few challenges when I moved to the east coast. There are the obvious financial costs, homesickness, and drastic weather change, but then there are other things that I didn’t think about when moving across the country. One of the lesser, but still aggravating, problems that I have encountered over this past semester is jet lag. Exhaustion, loss of appetite, headaches, and lack of concentration are common when flying across multiple time zones. Although I love going to Penn State with all my heart (WE ARE!), jet lag can be a pain to deal with.

Many studies have been done to help frequent flyers manage symptoms of jet lag after their long flights. In a double blind, placebo controlled crossover trial; twenty volunteers were sent from New Zealand, to London and back then given a dose of melatonin or a placebo to measure the effect of melatonin on jet lag. Subjects were given 5 mg of the melatonin or placebo before and during their flight, as well as once a day for three days after their arrival. Subjects were then given a questionnaire that asked them about their fatigue and activity. The study found that symptoms of jet lag were less in those who were taking the melatonin as these subjects returned to a normal sleep pattern and regular energy levels more quickly; concluding that melatonin was affective in reducing the effects of jet lag.

Personally, I wasn’t a fan of getting melatonin to deal with my jet lag, as it was inconvenient to have to go to the nearest drug store to find a bottle of supplements. So, I researched further and found a different study that concluded that coffee could also assist in reducing the effects of jet lag.

This study used caffeine in comparison to melatonin. Twenty-seven subjects, all reservists of the US Air Force, received a 300 mg dose of slow-release caffeine, a 5 mg dose of melatonin or a placebo before, during and/or after a their trans meridian flight. Researches took saliva and urine samples from the subjects in order to test hormone rhythms during the 4 days. The study found that although melatonin works more quickly than caffeine does in ridding of jet lag, both can help to reduce it’s tiring effects.

These studies provided the sufficient amount of information I needed to figure out how to get rid of the irritating symptoms of jet lag. Although, the subjects used in these studies were traveling much farther distances than I do. Since melatonin and caffeine helped subjects who were flying across continents, then they are more than likely to assist people who are only flying across the country. Melatonin might be a healthier and more effective choice than caffeine, and the study could be considered more reliable as it was a double blind.




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